When we smell another’s body, it is that body that we are breathing in through our mouth and nose,
that we possess instantly, as it were in its most secret substance, its own nature. Once inhaled, the smell is the fusion of the other’s body and my own. ~ Jean-Paul Sartre
The power of scent influences our human responses during attraction and mating. Love at first sight just may be love at first smell. Perfumes have been created for centuries, as ancient of a practice as we can trace back. Oils, unguents, elixirs, and the like were made for perfuming during and after bathing rituals, anointing one’s body to attract and entice. Our own pheromones are nature’s chemical concoction to attract, allure, and bond us with our mate. Sexual attraction and desire are fueled by scent, along with other contributing factors. But the natural scent of a lover is everlasting in our olfactory memories.
The scent of my lover intoxicates me with desire. When I nuzzle my nose against his skin, I am flooded with emotion. As we kiss, the scent of his upper lip makes my body tingle with a strong sense of devotion for him. I feel this awareness zing through me from his face to my nose, through the bones of my face, down into my breastbone, into my belly, like electrical current into the bones of my hips and down my legs to my toes. It is so powerful, like a magic spell cast over me. The skin of his neck and just near his ear smells so indescribably good and masculine that I feel gravity pull me into him. It’s so strong, I can’t resist. His scent causes a swell of longing to surge through me. When he leaves his clothing behind, I hold it to my face, close my eyes, and remember his embrace. I am obsessed with my lover’s scent.
Gustave Flaubert waxed deliriously with desire over his lover’s scent that lingered on her gloves and slippers. Poet Robert Herrick’s desire for his lover’s intimate scent, whose “breast, lips, hands, thighs, legs … are all richly aromatical,” made him wild with want for her. Napoleon Bonaparte, upon returning home from a long absence due to war, sent a message to his lover Josephine: “Home in three days. Don’t wash.” Washing and cleanliness decrease the musky scent that lovers crave of one another. I must admit, although I do love to bathe and enjoy feeling clean, I also love it when my body smells like sex after making love, because it reminds me of my lover. I feel possessed, scent-marked. But like animals do, marking their scent and licking the scent of others, I want to be scent-marked by my lover’s body. I want to be claimed by him. I inhale the scent of his skin during lovemaking, just his natural scent, without perfumes or deodorant. With my face buried into his armpit, there is nothing like the scent of him, so I breathe him in. It arouses me beyond measure. Kissing his mouth and inhaling my lover’s scent during sex is the most compelling combination of sensory pleasures.
Walt Whitman said the sweat of a lover was “aroma finer than prayer” and I must say I agree. In fact, I’ve discovered that I’m becoming a little fetishistic about the scent of the man I love. He leaves behind a necktie and immediately I smell the narrow part that keeps itself nearest around his neck. I am transported to the warmth of his skin there, the place where my face seeks when we are embracing. I recall the scent of him, remembering the smell when I burrow my face against his warm neck. I hold the thin black fabric to my face and caress it with my cheek. Inhale. Searching for the scent of him, I give the tie another smell along the strip of its silky fabric. Smell again. I discover a hint of his scent. My eyes flutter with the memory and instantly I understand the romantic cliche of smelling handkerchiefs and jackets where the memory of one’s lover exists. There, his white undershirt is draped across the chair. I gather the softness to my face. I smell the faintest scent of his body and take another deep inhale to find his odor at the armpit. His body odor is so delicately fragrant that I have to bury my nose. We recently both discovered our mutual love of each other’s smell, so when he is on top of me during sex, he generously offers his armpit to my face. I delight, savor, and relish him then. It drives me near to orgasm and I’m ecstatic with the fragrance of his underarm, his cock deep within me, his breath near my ear.
We both recently learned about how much we have been enjoying each other’s scent— the lingering scents of our bodies and sexual blending of our odors after lovemaking. He admitted to inhaling my sexual musk from behind, burying his nose in between my bottom cheeks, tonguing me there, and then tasting my sex, breathing it in, the femaleness. Even the remaining odors of my sex upon his, as it lingers the following day, he takes pleasure in. I admit my own renifleur delight of his body, the many areas of his body I love to smell, and even more when it has been a day or two after he has washed. Underneath his arms, his upper lip, his cheek, neck, the sultry musk of his sex, the creases in between his legs, and down underneath his balls, the area around his ass, and further. His feet smell good, and when I massage his toes, I am tempted to either suckle them or smell them. I can’t decide. The inner arch of his foot, the in between of his toes. I want him in a way that I have never known before. You see, I have never desired a man this much, and this may just be my first fascination with a lover’s scent. If pheromones are the cause, then it really was love at first smell.
“Masculine exhalations are, as a rule, stronger, more vivid, more widely differentiated than those of women. In the odor of young men there is something elemental, as of fire, storm, and salt sea. It pulsates with buoyancy and desire. It suggests all the things strong and beautiful and joyous and gives me a sense of physical happiness.” ~ Helen Keller
From Diane Ackerman’s book A Natural History of the Senses there is a plentitude of information on scent and smell. I found many curious and interesting facts about pheromones and desire in her book about the senses:
“Pheromones are the pack animals of desire (from Greek, pherein, to carry, and horman, excite). Animals, like us, not only have distinctive odors, they also have powerfully effective pheromones, which trigger other animals into ovulation and courtship, or establish hierarchies of influence and power.
Animals would not be able to live long without pheromones because they couldn’t mark their territories or choose receptive, fertile mates. But are there human pheromones? And can they be bottled? Some trendy women in Manhattan are wearing a perfume called Pheromone, priced at three hundred dollars an ounce. Expensive perhaps, but what price aphrodisia? Based on findings about the sexual attractants animals give off, the perfume promises, by implication, to make a woman smell provocative and turn stalwart men into slaves of desire: love zombies. The odd thing about the claims of this perfume is that its manufacturer has not specified which pheromones are in it. Human pheromones have not yet been identified by researchers, whereas, say, boar pheromones have. The vision of a generation of young women walking the streets wearing boar pheromones is strange, even for Manhattan. Let me propose a naughty recipe: Turn loose a herd of sows on Park Avenue. Mix well with crowds of women wearing Pheromone eau de cologne. Dial 911 for emergency.”
I recall the first day we met. He embraced me right away, and I swooned against him, my face fitting into his chest. We kissed and kissed, the warmth, the scent of his skin. Everywhere I met a new scent upon his body. The faint hint of shampoo in his hair, no cologne nor deodorant to hunt through for his natural aroma.
Unnameable fragrance, mysterious. I could not argue with instinct. I wanted him more than any other man in the world. He became the entire universe in the moment of his kiss.
I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent, starving I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disquiets me,
I search the liquid sound of your steps all day.
I hunger for your sleek laugh,
For your hands the color of the wild grain,
I hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.
I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your loveliness,
The nose, sovereign of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,
And I walk hungry, smelling the twilight
Looking for you, for your hot heart,
Like a puma in the barren wilderness.
Pablo Neruda wrote this poem about craving a lover’s mouth, with the last line, and I walk hungry, smelling the twilight, looking for you. The animalistic hunger of wanting a lover, searching for them in the scent of twilight, wanting to eat them from the intensity of desire. And like Jean-Paul Sartre said, Once inhaled, the smell [of a lover] is the fusion of the other’s body and my own.